South Carolina Truck Accident Attorney Randy Hood

This video features S. Randall "Randy" Hood, a Medical Malpractice attorney based in South Carolina.

How a Lawyer Can Help After a Semi-Truck Crash

Video transcript:

Randy Hood:

It's money. Greed and money are the reasons that these trucking companies will push someone to exceed their hours of service specifications mandated by the government.

Rob Rosenthal:

When 18-wheelers are operated unsafely, is it always the driver's fault? Well, that's what we're going to try to find out right now on this episode of Ask the Lawyer.

Hi again, everybody. I'm Rob Rosenthal with askthelawyers.com and my guest today is South Carolina attorney Randy Hood, who has many years of experience handling trucking accident cases.

I want to remind you, if you want to ask questions about your specific situation, head over to askthelawyers.com, click the button at the top of the screen that says, “Ask a Lawyer,” and you can do it right there; it will walk you right through the whole process.

Randy, good to see you again. Thank you for making some time to help us out.

Randy Hood:

Hey, Rob. How are you doing today, brother?

Rob Rosenthal:

In a trucking accident when someone's injured because of someone else's negligence, is it easy to determine fault for your firm? Is it difficult? Is it always the driver? Are there other people that could be a fault? What happens there?

Randy Hood:

Well, you have to start at the beginning. When I say that, you have to look at any time there's a serious accident—any time an 18-wheeler is involved in an accident, it's a serious accident. It’s usually a 75,000 pound vehicle against a 4,000 or 5,000 pound vehicle. And when that happens, there's usually catastrophic circumstances or serious injury. So you have to start with what happened. The first thing we do in my firm is we get the accident report; we contact law enforcement; we try to find out what occurred, and we do it immediately. We also send out something called a FOIA letter, a Freedom of Information Act request to the United States government for information about a trucking company. We also send a spoliation letter advising the trucking company, the driver, and the insurance company for that trucking company not to destroy anything and that we would like to also take a look at the tractor trailer. Literally, this is done on day one. Within 24 hours of us being contacted all of this drops; we then are able to obtain that information very quickly.

We then determine whether the truck driver was at fault, was our person at fault, was their mixed responsibility. Where there's a serious accident, many times you have to get an accident reconstruction expert involved. We have a number of different accident reconstruction experts that we have dealt with in the past, and that we have working with us right now on different cases. We have them involved from the beginning—literally from the beginning, once again, within 24 to 48 hours. They then are involved in the inspection of the tractor-trailer truck to determine what is wrong, because many times they have an electronic control module or people commonly call it a black box, and so you want to download that material and you want to have that in addition to witness statements and the law enforcement investigation and putting all of those together, you can get a really good idea of exactly what occurred in the case.

Rob Rosenthal:

So many things popped into my head. First of all, the fact that you're talking about all that happening very quickly, that makes me think it's really important that if someone is a victim of an accident with a big rig, to contact a firm like yours as quickly as possible is going to be the best path.

Randy Hood:

I think that's absolutely true. Things disappear. Memories fade. Evidence gets gone. So it's incredibly important to contact an experienced truck wreck lawyer, whether it's in South Carolina and it's my firm, whether it's another state and another firm, whether it’s South Carolina and another trucking law firm. You need to get someone immediately, because these are the types of cases where they have to be preserved and they need to be preserved immediately, and you also need someone that understands the significance of doing everything immediately, that you don't wait.

This is not a car accident; most people seem to think that a car accident and a truck accident are the same thing, but it's like apples and oranges. You wouldn't go to an OBGYN if you have a heart issue. The same thing goes for a lawyer; you don't go to a car wreck attorney who does nothing but car wrecks for a trucking accident case. You want somebody that has a lot of experience and understands exactly what they have to do to be able to preserve your rights and the integrity of the evidence in a very quick manner.

Rob Rosenthal:

Explain to me what the federal coercion rule is and how it could play into this.

Randy Hood:

I call it hours of service. There are federal statutes and federal regulations that are put in place by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the FMCSA. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration says you cannot drive except for certain times in certain amounts of hours in a specific period of time. Because one of the biggest problems in the trucking industry is distracted drivers. If you or I were driving our 5,000 pound car and were involved in an accident where we hit another 5000-pound car, it may be serious. It could even be fatal, but most of the time, the large majority of the time, it's a fender-bender or somebody is not really hurt very badly. When a 75,000 pound vehicle, on the other hand, hits anybody at any speed there's going to be serious injury involved most of the time, and you have to ensure that you cut out the things that could possibly cause these types of accidents. One of the most important things is creating a scenario or a system where you don't allow distracted driving to occur.

Rob Rosenthal:

So there are rules in place as far as hours of service and time when drivers need to rest and that sort of thing. In your experience, Randy, do you think trucking companies are pushing their drivers to get to those limits or even exceed those limits?

Randy Hood:

Absolutely. It happens. It's just like most things that I see in my business, you have to ask yourself, “Why would somebody do that? Why would somebody allow a driver or even push their driver to exceed federally mandated limits that are used to protect the motoring public?” And it's because of one thing, and it's money. It's money. Greed and money are the reasons that these trucking companies will push someone to exceed their hours of service specifications mandated by the government.

Rob Rosenthal:

How can a personal injury attorney like yourself help me if I'm a victim in one of these accidents? What can you do for the victims?

Randy Hood:

Well, the first thing they do is contact us, and then we can get on the scene immediately. We try to within 24 to 48 hours have letters to law enforcement, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the insurance company, the driver, the company, preserving evidence and finding out what's going on. It's important also to be able to detail someone's injuries and to be able to understand exactly the process that needs to be followed to be able to maximize the ability to obtain compensation in a case. Once again, this is not a car accident case. These cases most of the time are very, very complex. There may be an accident reconstruction expert involved, there may be a trucking expert involved, there may be other experts, like a life care planner, an economist. There's a number of experts involved to be able to maximize the compensation someone may receive in such an accident. We are the people that help accomplish that goal.

Rob Rosenthal:

Some of these injuries could be life-long that someone is dealing with these in these catastrophic injury cases.

Randy Hood:

Absolutely. I have seen burn injury cases; I have a case right now we're currently litigating where a man was burned alive because he was stuck in the truck as it caught on fire and as rescue was watching he literally burned alive. We have people who are paralyzed, whether it's quadriplegic from the neck down or paraplegic from the waist down. We have people who have suffered an amputation injury. We have people who have suffered traumatic brain injury. We have people that have broken legs. We have people with hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills. We have people that are now deceased, and all points in between.

At the end of the day, everybody's case is very different, and the injuries are very different, but they're usually extraordinarily significant and they are life-changing events in someone's family. It's my job, my duty, my responsibility to make sure that we try to make you as equal as possible, or as close as possible to the way that it was before the accident. We can't turn back time, but we can try to get you justice in some form or manner, and most of it is going to be in the form of compensation.

Rob Rosenthal:

Randy, you mentioned all the experts that can be involved in compiling the case; that can be expensive. What if someone is thinking, “I can't afford all that. I just had my life turned upside down”? What if they're thinking, “I'm not sure I can afford to call a personal injury attorney like yourself”?

Randy Hood:

The way that my firm works is we work on a contingency fee agreement, and that means that if you come to me and I take your case, that I do not take a fee unless we are successful. It is only if we're successful. The only money that you will ever pay me or my firm will not really be to me, it’s if we file a lawsuit and you have to put gas in your car to go to a deposition. That's the most money it will ever cost you in a case where I'm involved, where my firm is involved. We made that decision many years ago. We fund the case, and if we are not successful, you don't owe me a dime.

Rob Rosenthal:

Lots of great information, Randy. Thank you so much for making some time to answer our questions.

Randy Hood:

Thank you, Rob.

Rob Rosenthal:

That's going to do it for this episode of Ask the Lawyer. My guest has been South Carolina attorney Randy Hood. I want to remind you that if you'd like to get more information or to ask questions about your specific situation, head over to askthelawyers.com, click the button at the top of the page says “Ask a Lawyer”, and you can do your asking right there. Thanks for watching. I'm Rob Rosenthal with AskTheLawyers™.

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